NOW Magazine - Toronto Living - - Front Page - By Mar­cia Lyon

BBlend­ing two ad­ja­cent condo units isn’t as sim­ple as you might think. Un­like a house, where plumb­ing and elec­tri­cal walls can be re­lo­cated, chases (en­clo­sures for plumb­ing, elec­tri­cal wires and some­times heat­ing ducts) in multi-level build­ings ex­tend through all the floors and are im­mov­able on a sin­gle floor. The ver­ti­cal struc­tural el­e­ments are also im­mov­able. Th­ese are made of con­crete or steel and ex­tend from floor to floor, sup­port­ing the en­tire build­ing. In­di­vid­ual heat­ing and cool­ing units can be moved, but then the ducts that de­liver the air will also have to be moved, in­cur­ring even more ex­pense. Leav­ing th­ese units in place will save re­mod­elling dol­lars. It takes an ex­pert eye plus ar­chi­tec­tural con­struc­tion draw­ings to ac­com­plish the phys­i­cal feat of condo-com­bin­ing. Con­do­minium by­laws will in­flu­ence the de­sign. And don’t for­get that you’ll prob­a­bly have to pay both monthly as­sess­ments for your dou­ble unit. While re­sale might not be as easy for a big­ger unit, most units be­ing built now are so small that your re­sale pos­si­bil­i­ties may in fact be en­hanced. Re­search your mar­ket be­fore you start con­struc­tion. If the mod­i­fi­ca­tions will re­sult in your per­fect palace and you plan to stay long enough to make it worth­while, or if you just love the lo­ca­tion, ex­plore all the pos­si­bil­i­ties and make it hap­pen.


This client moved into a two-bed­room unit (A), mak­ing com­pro­mises. It was smaller than she’d wanted, there was no laun­dry room, and her home of­fice would have to be con­densed into what was in­tended as the dining area (B). The bal­cony space (C) would barely ac­com­mo­date a ta­ble for two and a bench. In­stead of win­dows, the kitchen (D) had a view of the bal­cony doors, uti­liz­ing bor­rowed light. The condo was in a new build­ing in an ideal lo­ca­tion, with in­cred­i­ble views. This made it worth the ini­tial in­vest­ment, and the plan was to wait for the ad­ja­cent onebed­room unit (E) to be­come avail­able. The owner works out of her home full­time and wanted a fully func­tion­ing of­fice, ide­ally with a view. Oc­ca­sion­ally, she re­ceives busi­ness vis­i­tors, so the space had to be pro­fes­sional and sep­a­rate from the living space. Hav­ing a ded­i­cated space for an of­fice makes it clearly de­ductible.


The owner of the ad­ja­cent one-bed­room (E) was con­tacted and a “first right of re­fusal” agree­ment was signed, mean­ing

that if they put the unit up for sale, the owner of the two-bed­room unit would be of­fered the apart­ment first. Once the new unit was ob­tained, most of the homework had been done to com­bine the two units. The ar­chi­tect pro­duced a drawing show­ing the space as if all un­nec­es­sary walls had been re­moved, re­veal­ing the struc­tural and me­chan­i­cal bones. Con­stant ref­er­ence was made to the “be­fore” drawing in or­der to keep the el­e­ments that worked. The bed­room at the end (G), along with the two bath­rooms (H&I), re­mained un­changed. The sec­ond bed­room (J) was oddly shaped and small, so it was ex­panded and a sec­ond closet added (K). Since a laun­dry room was planned (L), the washer/dryer closet (M) be­came a lug­gage stor­age spot. The half bath (N) in the one-bed­room unit was pre­served to be used for guests and the of­fice. The kitchen was pulled to­ward the view by elim­i­nat­ing the bath­room and closet (O) in the one-bed­room unit. The work­ing part of the new kitchen (P) takes up the back part of the new space, com­plete with a cor­ner pantry. The sink and work counter (Q) ex­tend out as a penin­sula, with vis­ual con­nec­tions to the dining (R) and living rooms (S) and to the win­dows of­fer­ing the view. The higher por­tion of this counter (T) acts as a vis­ual bar­rier from the new dining room, and as a serv­ing counter and an area to park vis­i­tors. A cus­tom-de­signed buf­fet (U) de­fines the dining room, adding beauty and func­tion. A tra­di­tional dou­ble-swing glass door (V) is sand­wiched be­tween two chases for di­rect ac­cess from the kitchen. The dining room (R) oc­cu­pies prime view space and is open to the living room (S) but not in it. The two bal­conies are com­bined into one sweep­ing space. (C). The new laun­dry room (L) is lo­cated in the for­mer kitchen space (D) of the two-bed­room unit, along with a re­cessed coat closet by the main door. The of­fice (W) oc­cu­pies the for­mer living/ dining area (X) of the one-bed­room unit. This space has stunning views, di­rect ac­cess to the bal­cony, and glass French doors (Y) that can cre­ate pri­vacy when needed. There is enough space for all the equip­ment needed, plus a con­fer­ence ta­ble and chairs. The door to the one-bed­room unit is now a sep­a­rate en­trance to the of­fice, by­pass­ing the res­i­dence. A strate­gi­cally placed “to go” shelf (Z) func­tions for both res­i­dence and of­fice.

MAR­CIA LYON is a pro­fes­sional re­mod­elling designer and free­lance writer. E-mail: Mar­[email protected]­at­, visit www.cre­at­ or call 515-991-8880.



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